How to Make Your Church Easier to Find this Easter

Easter is the highest-attended church service each year and Google searches for “church” spike in the weeks leading up to the holiday. People that don’t attend regularly but try to show up on holidays and special occasions will go looking for a church nearby. Your church could be exactly what they need on Easter and beyond, but will they be able to find you online? Moreover, will they find the information they need to feel comfortable coming to your church? If not, consider the steps below to make your church easy to find and attractive to newcomers this Easter.

Clean Up Your Website

startup-photosFor many potential visitors, the website is their first impression of your church. Is yours cluttered and lacking a clear site structure or is information easy to find and placed in logical locations? Proper site structure makes it easy for visitors to navigate your site and find the information they need, but it’s also crucial to showing up in Google search results in the first place. A well-organized site improves search engine optimization (SEO) and ensures Google understands who you are and what you do. You’re more likely to show up in searches with a clean and organized website, and visitors are more likely to peruse it for information. Make sure all the information they need, particularly for Easter services and other special occasions, is easy to find.

Evaluate Your Name

What’s in a name? According to Matt Morrison, if your online name doesn’t include the word “church”, Google may not recognize you as one. So, if your name is “St. John’s”, you might not show up if someone searches “churches near me”. Adding “church” to the end of your name is a simple way to make sure you show up in those search results. While you’re at it, update your Google business account to ensure the right name, location, and hours are listed, along with contact information and your web address. The information should not only be correct, but it should also reflect the information on your “contact” page on your website. (You do have a “contact” page, right?)

Provide Clear Directions

choose-the-right-direction-1536336_1920Helping potential Easter attendees find you online is only half the battle; you have to help them find your physical location as well. Provide clear directions on your website so newcomers can easily find their way. Better yet, embed a map on your contact page. Visitors can simply click on the map and get directions to your location from wherever they are. Plus, an embedded map can further improve your search rankings. A mystery guest at one church said:

“Prior to my visit, I checked the church’s website. I also used Google maps to determine their location. It was easy to find, both on Google and Google maps.” – church visitor

Promote Your Church

lightstock_231553_full_kateYou can restructure your website, update your name, and add a map to your contact page, but if you aren’t advertising, you still may not be easy to find this Easter. If you’ve long-held the belief that marketing is “bad”, it’s time to change your perspective. Instead of viewing marketing as “good” or “bad”, view it as the tool it is, and learn to use it. Post regularly on Facebook and your other social media pages, and try promoted posts, particularly those pertaining to Easter. Doing so will get the post—and your church—in front of more people, and they may feel inspired to spend their holiday with you.

You’re bound to see some new faces at your Easter services, but the easier you are to find online, the more new faces you’ll see. If you’re curious how and where your website is showing up in search results and whether or not it’s attracting visitors, we can help. Our mystery guest program sends thousands of guests to churches across the country to evaluate everything from their websites to parking to the atmosphere, and more. You can use this unbiased feedback to make changes that will make guests feel welcome, accepted and want to return.

Church Outreach and Why It’s Not Working

What is outreach? The word itself literally means “to reach out” and “to reach further than,” but the definition doesn’t tell you to whom you should be reaching out and how to do it. What does that mean for your church?


Outreach literally means “to reach out,” and “to reach farther than,” but to whom?
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I want to define what we consider outreach to be. There are (in our opinion) two primary types of outreach we see happening within the churches we work with:

Transactional Outreach: Much like it sounds – a transaction. This type of outreach usually centers on partnerships with other charities or organizations to meet a monetary or other specific need. For example, a canned food or clothing drive, a special offering for a charity or local service organization, hosting a holiday meal or providing a meal for a family in need. This type of outreach is necessary and needed, but typically churches don’t go beyond meeting the need to engaging and building a relationship with the actual people they are helping.

Missional Outreach: This type of outreach moves from transactional to transformational. It involves a church’s time and presence. It is often coupled with some form of transactional outreach, but has a relational component to it. Examples of missional outreach involve a school tutoring program where the church is serving the same kids and families weekly; or a prison ministry where people go in week after week to walk alongside those people and minister to them; or instead of just providing a meal for a family in need, people from the church are having dinner with that family and building a relationship with them. The point of missional outreach is to build relationships and commit to the long haul.


Missional outreach is a mission to build relationships and a commitment to the long haul.
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Most churches we work with lean more toward doing transactional outreach and have very few outreaches that are missional or transformational. Other churches try to do so much and spread themselves so thin with lots of busy work that their efforts bear little fruit because they aren’t deeply committed in any one area.

Outreach Audit: Your church may already be doing some things that could easily become more missional. Start by making a list of the outreach your church is doing. Then ask the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this outreach?
  2. How is this helping us live out our mission as a church?
  3. Is the outreach is bearing fruit? We’re not just talking church growth here. Some outreach efforts won’t increase attendance at your church, but it should be measurable and missional.
  4. If the outreach is primarily transactional how can it become transformational?
  5. What is God doing? In other words, where is God leading you to focus your outreach and what is he asking you to stop doing?

If you are looking for ways to improve your missional outreach consider reading Missional Moves. This book dives deeper into helping your church take what you are already doing and align your efforts to your church’s mission.

What kind of outreach is your church doing that is missional?

 

About Faith Perceptions
Faith Perceptions is a market research firm that provides churches and faith-based organizations with research about their target market. We send mystery guests into churches across the country each week to report back to us on what their experiences are like. We use this information to help churches improve the way they welcome and connect with guests. Faith Perceptions has been evaluating the first-time guest experience since 2008.

 

 

Easter: The Most Important Sunday?

Many Christians will argue that Easter is the like the Super Bowl of services for their church. It’s one of the biggest celebrations on the Christian calendar, and rightfully so. Your worship pastor will step up the music, your pastor’s sermon will be on point, and your fellow church members will hopefully be a little friendlier than normal.

If your church is like mine, then you’ve seen it before. Attendance will skyrocket on Easter Sunday (and might be a little higher than normal the week or two after Easter), but then it’s back to business as usual. Why is this happening?


I hate to break it to you, but it’s the church’s fault.

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If you’re still with me after reading that last sentence, thanks for hearing me out. I love the church and I’m so thankful that we have a reason to celebrate Easter, but I think the church could be doing a lot better about its post-Easter outreach.

Churches tend to put a lot of emphasis on getting people to their Easter events. Postcards with the Easter service times are mailed, egg hunts are advertised, yard signs are strategically placed, and the list goes on. I’m not saying that these outreach ideas aren’t effective or that getting people in the church building on Easter isn’t important. In fact, if you haven’t done some of those things to make your community aware, then get started! But I do wonder why we focus so much on one Sunday?


Why are we only making a big deal out of one Sunday a year if we’re trying to reach people every Sunday of the year?

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With more guests coming to your church on Easter Sunday than usual, you need to be prepared. You also need to plan for every Sunday after that.

Follow-Up. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: if a guest leaves you their contact information, they want you to contact them. Don’t wait. Let them know you’re glad they came and that you hope they will come back. This is also a perfect opportunity to introduce what’s coming next. Whether it’s a new message series or an upcoming event at the church, be sure to tell them about it. People are more likely to come to something they’ve been invited to.

Host a Spring Festival. Post Easter events are a great way to keep people engaged and get to know them. Think about hosting an event with free food, games, and fellowship. Events like these can be foundational in building relationships with the unchurched.

Summer is Coming. Summer will be here before you know it, which means your church is probably starting to look forward to summer camps and Vacation Bible School. Pick dates for those as soon as possible and start getting the word out now so families can plan for them.

Clean Up Your Website. Once Easter is over, it’s imperative to update your website and let potential first-time guests (and those guests that visited your church on Easter) know what is happening next. Are you hosting that spring festival in a couple of weeks? Are you having a Mother’s Day celebration? Let your website do some of the outreach work for you by keeping it current.

Document. While Easter is still fresh on your mind, document your successes and things that you would like to do differently for next years’ service. What worked and what didn’t? How many first-time guests did you have? Were there any professions of faith you can celebrate? What can you do to reach more people next year? Make note of these things now to have on hand for planning next Easter.

I don’t write this to say that Easter shouldn’t be celebrated in a big way at your church. Easter is the ultimate holy day and one of the highlights of the Christian journey. I’m just saying that your outreach ministry shouldn’t begin and end with your Easter Sunday celebration. Be intentional about what you are going to do to reach people once Easter is over.

 

About Faith Perceptions

Faith Perceptions is a market research firm that provides churches and faith-based organizations with research about their target market. We send mystery guests into churches across the country each week to report back to us on what their experiences are like. We use this information to help churches improve the way they welcome and connect with guests. Faith Perceptions has been evaluating the first-time guest experience since 2008.